Man cautioned over Taliban garage smear

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A MAN has been cautioned by police for misusing social media after likening Wigan garage staff to “Taliban child-killers.”

The unnamed Chorley 53-year-old made the offensive remarks on Facebook while compounding a false claim that Muslim employees of the Boar’s Head garage in Standish had refused to serve a young man because he was wearing a Help for Heroes shirt.

Officers took the unusual step of issuing a statement saying that the 22-year-old customer, who is a soldier, was indeed turned away but that was because he was unable to provide proof of age when buying cigarettes.

The soldier left the shop on December 18 and told family he believed he was turned away because of the shirt. A family member then posted a message on Facebook criticising the garage.

This post was then picked up by the 53-year-old who posted a message suggesting the petrol station had links to the Taliban and made reference to the recent massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar, Pakistan.

PC Nicola Lears said: “Initially, the soldier was refused by a cautious shopkeeper who had recently fallen foul of underage customers buying cigarettes and he wanted to be ultra-cautious. In no way whatsoever did he refuse to serve this man because of his affiliation to the Armed Forces.

“Unfortunately, this started a series of rumours and gossip which ultimately led to an inflammatory, and completely inaccurate, message being uploaded onto a social networking site which could clearly have caused the shopkeeper distress and put him at risk.

“We have investigated this matter thoroughly and are satisfied the shopkeeper refused to sell cigarettes because the soldier looked young for his age and quite correctly wanted identification to be sure.

“There was nothing untoward and certainly no racial prejudice whatsoever.

“The individual who posted the inflammatory message has been spoken to, cautioned and warned that such behaviour is not acceptable and we will take action against anyone who acts before thinking. Posting messages on social networking can often be a knee-jerk reaction but I would urge people establish the facts before they act.

“To his credit, the man has since sent a letter of apology to the shopkeeper and accepted he was in the wrong but it is important we let the wider community know exactly what happened to dispel any nasty rumours.”